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REMEMBERING YOU DC
A Community Archiving Initiative
“Remembering YoU” is a community-driven archival initiative created to preserve U Street’s rich history and empower local residents to retake control of the narratives shaping their histories and neighborhoods. Scroll below to learn more about the neighborhood and the initiative. Learn more about the people and institutions behind this initiative.
U Street and its surrounding areas were an exuberant epicenter of African-American culture, of local and national importance until the mid-twentieth century. The bars and clubs of “Black Broadway” regularly hosted the greatest jazz and blues performers of the era. The neighborhood reflected too the contradictions of African-American entrepreneurship and creativity during legalized racial inequality and segregation: while white patrons flocked to the neighborhood’s clubs, the performers themselves could only stay in hotels like the Whitelaw and Dunbar in this segregated city. Moreover, the African-American businesses and residents that gave the neighborhood its character were unable to grow and put down roots, since nearly all were tenants, not landlords.
As the built environment is transformed and as people scatter, gentrifying neighborhoods become sites of historical erasure. In turn, this erasure furthers gentrification, as communities are unable to lay historical claims to their own neighborhoods. This project addresses this problem by taking a community-centered approach to historical preservation that allows U Street’s many communities to preserve and shape their own historical narratives. Our project is less focused on preservation per se than in increasing community capacity for preservation that allows communities to control their own historical narratives. Our goal is to democratize access to basic historical and archival skills, and to create intra-community linkages that enable community-led preservation.This project’s archival approach centers 1) historical pedagogy, both inside and outside the classroom and 2) community involvement in the archiving process.
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